Edward Nero, the second Baltimore police officer to stand trial in the Freddie Gray, was found not guilty by Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams Monday morning.
Nero faced charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office. Nero waived his right to a trial by jury. His bench trial began May 12 and final arguments were heard Thursday.
Nero was one of three bike officers involved in the initial police encounter with Gray on April 12, 2015. He and Officer Garrett Miller were called to assist another officer, Lt. Brian Rice, who had initially begun chasing Gray.
Prosecutors claimed that Nero assaulted Gray by detaining him without justification. But Miller admitted that he detained and handcuffed Gray, that he was the one who walked Gray to the wall while Nero retrieved officer Miller’s bike. Miller said the only time Nero touched Gray at the arrest site was when Gray asked for his inhaler.
Judge Williams said Miller’s testimony was also corroborated by Gray’s friend, Brandon Ross.
“Mr. Brandon Ross clearly stated that it was not the defendant who was with Mr. Gray initially but another bike officer. Mr. Ross saw the defendant with two bikes walking towards Mr. Gray and the other officer, and this was after the bike officer cuffed Mr. Gray,” Williams said in his ruling(PDF).
Baltimore’s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake commented about the verdict.
“Today Judge Barry G. Williams found Officer Edward Nero not guilty of all criminal charges. This is our American system of justice and police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in this city, state, and country. Now that the criminal case has come to an end, Officer Nero will face an administrative review by the Police Department. We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion. In the case of any disturbance in the city, we are prepared to respond. We will protect our neighborhoods, our businesses and the people of our city.”